Sunday, March 21, 2010

Avenue Q (Atlantis Productions)

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Bad Idea Bears! Just could not get enough of the thought of a cute Care Bear ripoff advising someone to hang himself, and then releasing a sigh of disappointment when not obliged. It is so deranged that is hilarious. And of course, Trekkie the Monster! Let us all get rich and invest in porn! HAHAHAHA!

It gets a little bit confusing at first. This is not your typical puppet show where only the upper half of them are exposed. Here, the puppeteers are also visible onstage. The good thing about it is that they are also in character; there is some fusion going on between puppet and puppeteer. As for the dual roles the transition from one character to another is smoothly done, so it is easy to distinguish one from the other.

How timely is this? What Do You Do with a B.A. in English and It Sucks to Be Me just hit the spot. I almost docked because the lyrics were coming fast and I thought they were all directed at me, HAHAHA. You probably felt the same way if you saw this during that time in your life when you felt mostly lost finding that fucking purpose, just like Princeton does in this musical. The message is clear. You might spend all your life trying to find that purpose, but as the cliché goes: It is not the destination, but the journey. You just end up missing out on life because you are impeded by an ideal that does not need to be chased, but rather discovered step-by-step until it completely dawns upon you. So live your life, purpose be damned! But heck, really, EASIER SAID THAN DONE.

With the exception of the human characters, everyone else in the cast plays two to three (even four!) puppet roles, and they all do so very well. But Felix Rivera and Rachel Alejandro are the ones who get the most recognition because they control the lead puppets; and they do a great job with the character shift (Felix from straight to gay; Rachel from timid to slutty). But you also have to hand it to Joel Trinidad for bringing Trekkie the Monster to life. This guy's voice is so versatile he should be accepting dubbing jobs too, that is if he has not done so already. Aiza Seguerra is no Gary Coleman, but she clearly fits the bill of a has-been child star. She is not a weak link either, in fact she is one of the crowd favorites. Frenchie Dy looks more Chinese than Japanese; and I just do not like the Brian character at all.

This musical works not just because it tackles a theme to which anyone above 20 could easily relate: Quarter-life crisis; but also because it effectively masks its attempt on social relevance (mostly racism) behind all the puppetry, although the language used is already rather direct to the point. It is almost always a sure fire hit. How do you make an 8-year-old fat kid with a profane mouth funny? Turn him into a cartoon: South Park. How do you get your argument on racism across an audience without leaving them snoring with mouths half-open? Make a song about it, and then let puppets sing it: Everyone's a Little Bit Racist. That oddity helps make the discourse tolerable for such a sensitive issue.

There is one line from Princeton after the 15-minute intermission: It sucks to be me. I am old. I am 23. The audience roared in laughter. I guess it is the same thing for everyone. When you are lost trying to find that P word, you feel old, and then when someone younger feels and says the same thing it becomes laughable because at the back of your mind you think: You ain't seen nothing yet! It could very well be a collective experience.

Is it a reality of life, or is it really just that idealistic-realistic path that is inevitably taken by the majority? If so, then maybe we should warn children early on that they will arrive at this point where life would really suck and it is not that idealistic post-college party life they thought it would be? But that is just brutal. Everyone has the right to dream, and learning the hard way that life sucks does not give anyone the right to rob someone of his idealism. Otherwise, this would be a very demented world to live in. Just my two cents.

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